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A King's Story (1965)
OK but one-sided
A good-enough documentary of his life up to the time he left England.
But it is one-sided. Little is said of his "spoilt-brat" attitude.
Nothing much after the Abdication - which the Duke usually saw as the world trying to stop him doing what he wanted. The book was published in 1951, so this "documentary" makes nothing of the wasted 1950s when the Duke and Duchess wandered from one party to another, spending the allowance and cash from the sale of his private estates which saw them end up effectively broke, living in a free house courtesy of the French Government.
A watchable film based on the book designed to paint the Windsors in the best possible light, and ignore anything that might tarnish the image.
Oh no they shouldn't
Celebrity cameos and cringing at awful jokes are mandatory in the traditional British Panto. Hammed up so mercilessly what should be terrible becomes good unfortunately this is a complete disaster. The cameos are, as expected, wooden. But so to are the rest of the performances. The rehearsals and multiple retakes of TV show how it is technology rather than acting skill which has put so many "stars" on our silver screen. "Griff Rhys-Jones " (qv) is one notable exception in his small role, as are two of the major characters: "Martin Clunes" (qv) as the evil Abanazer and "John Savident" (qv), as Widow Twankey, is proper Dame
Monarch of the Glen (2000)
Rj17 says 'ClanDonald Has Issues After reading the Post of ClanDonald I was reminded just how scary this world is. For those of you who might not know, the show "Monarch of the Glen" is FICTION.'
True, it is fiction, and an enjoyable fiction, but when an episode such as tonight's (21 Nov. 04) is aired, I can understand ClanDonald's complaints. In the name of entertainment and making money, the current law and centuries of history and tradition are ignored, distorted, and insulted.
I look forward now to 'West Point: The True Story of How Benedict Arnold Fought to Stop George Washington Abandoning the Fort to the Redcoats', or better, perhaps, 'Trail of Tears: The Musical' and the welcoming comments it would receive from the Cherokee Nation.
The series began in 1912 as a fund raiser for music-hall charities. The standard meant the organisers were able to miss out the top star of the day, Marie Lloyd. Now they are reduced to a collection of B and C list entertainers, bolstered by some with more viewer appeal, who probably couldn't think of excuse to get away fast enough. The performances command TV time only because they are designed to raise money for charity.
This year saw the the usual collection of skits by "straight" actors forced to be funny for the sake of publicity in the name of charity. 2001 also saw the career low point of 60s pop star Cilla Black, as she finished her performance clad in a basque with a flashing neon heart at her crotch.
Now I understand Neilson
Over here I'm used to the BBC allowing a new show one more 6 part series to find their niche. American networks cancelling a show on the first night seemed strange, even ridiculous. `Kristin' just hit cable here in England.
The only thing strange and ridiculous about this is how it even got to pilot stage. The contrived plot and obvious scenes were not helped by wooden performances. Several of the writers have worked on good shows Becker, Frasier, Cosby etc. but for this they did not bother to produce their best, and combined with the `talents' of the likes of Kristin Chenoweth and Larry Romano and the show was destined to failure. In 1954 we had one BBC channel and nothing else. If Kristin is 50 years of progress, let's bring back Lord Reith and the Hays Office.
She can't be dragged down
Lily live, or on TV has an edge on this video. The act is brilliant, from grouchy neighbour Kitty Kelly to the dance scene. As ever Lily is camp, over-the-top and hilarious, and I can never look at my cats in the same light again
It's a pity production values aren't up to the star's standard. In recording this theatre performance the director aimed for the home-movie wannabee. The camerawork seems so static that the diary room in _"Big Brother" (2000/III)_ (qv) shows more imagination. The legs, the voice and the jokes combine to rise above technical crew, and make this an unmissable video.
Dr. Crippen (1963)
"Damned Yankees" :)
Brits complain about Americans stealing our inventions, yet we've been quite happy to claim two Americans, a quack doctor and a failed burlesque singer for our own. Casting 'Donald Pleasence'(qv) as the Doctor and Anglicised Aussie 'Coral Browne' (qv) as his insufferable wife not only seemed right but produced wonderfully atmospheric performances. I've only seen a TV version so it may be TV editing rather than the low budget that missed out, for example, Ethel wearing Mrs Crippens furs & jewellery to events. It would have helped see why the Doctor fell under suspicion. Made at a time when abolishing capital punishment and miscarriages of justices were under discussion in the UK it is not surprising the film suggests that the murder wasn't premeditated. In the light of his subsequent actions, you can decide yourself.
The real `other woman' Ethel Le Neve, changed her name and died in Dulwich, SE London, in 1967 aged 89. If she saw this movie what did she think?
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Drama, not history
I think this an excellent drama, but not a history, and it does not pretend to be. This film is not based on The Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, but the 'Jerome Lawrence' (qv) and 'Robert E. Lee' (qv) play of 1950. Although play and film use chunks of transcript the Drummond/Brady cross-examination is almost verbatim Darrow's questioning of Bryan the play shows its separate evolution. Written at the heart of the Anti-Communist Witch-Hunts the reason Drummond makes an impassioned plea for the right to think becomes obvious.
To highlight their anti-witchhunt message Lawrence and Lee took a lot of licence in making the townspeople very bigoted, and in dramatising the circumstances of `Bertram Gates' arrest. As a result, some Christians condemn the film as an attack on their religion. Rather it highlights the state of society a quarter of a century after the events nominally depicted. The play, although written in 1950 could not be performed until 1955; since when it has been filmed and staged several times, most recently in Broadway in 1995 with 'Tony Randall' (qv) and a 1999 TV movie starring 'Jack Lemmon' (qv) and 'George C Scott' (qv)
The Edwardian Country House (2002)
Not so much a game, more a way of life
Hugh Edgar, a retired architect, was a true `method actor'. He didn't just act the Butler, he became the butler. Some of the younger staff seemed unwilling to accept everything they had signed up to. Even the Master of the House wanted to bring in the 21st century if it made him even more comfortable. That made the series more interesting. Not just a glimpse into history but a look at how self-centred we and the younger generation have become.
Edgar relaxed his mask only for one scene on the last day, adding to its humour and showing the series' raison d'être.
An off-putting title, but a fascinating and unmissable series.
The Man Who Never Was (1956)
Although I consider Clifton Webb a fine actor, he never seems comfortable in this role. The discomfort may be an illusion caused by an obviously fake beard and hair combined with a British Stiff Upper lip that is a little too stiff. Only while writing this did I do the math; Webb is playing a serving naval officer when he was 68. Unintentionally he caught a facet of the 1940s Brit: the British do not `do' emotions. Sadly, 'Gloria Grahame' (qv) achieves this lack of emotion by bad acting. Nevertheless story flows well throughout the movie, although the final post-war seen seems a bit cloying (maybe 21st century Brits don't do emotions either). Despite the review, I actually enjoyed this movie, on the two or three times I've seen it have because I wanted too, not because something needs to be on TV
Recently there have been revelations about the true identity of `Major Martin'. I've heard several, and aside from showing that the movie chose a genteel origin for the Major (surprise, surprise, it was made in the 1950s) they do merely denigrate a man's memory and embarrass his family. A search for the truth gone a little too far.